Friends of the Desert

Science, Language Arts, and Social Studies Activity

Students hold a conference to learn how cooperation among nations might solve a problem that affects much of Africa.



  1. Have students study a climate map of the desert regions of Africa: the Sahara and Kalahari. Then have them use a political map to determine which African nations are in those regions. Point out that the maps make it clear that desertification, the process by which land becomes desert, is not limited to one country. Encourage students to discuss how cooperation among the countries they've listed might help fight desertification.

  2. Announce (and schedule) an upcoming Pan-African Conference on Desert Control and Reclamation. Divide the class into delegations, appointing two or more delegates to the conference from each of the nations in the desert region. Before the conference opens, each delegation is responsible for learning as much as it can about how the desert is affecting its nation.

  3. Appoint a conference chairperson or fill the role yourself. When the delegations come together as a conference, divide the group into committees to study the list of topics and questions provided or a list of your own. Explain that each committee, which should have members from several nations, is to produce a report that suggests answers to the questions posed. The reports should include ideas on positive steps African countries can take in cooperation with one another.

  4. Make the climax of the conference the presentation of the reports.


A committee of students can represent the host country for the conference. They would be responsible for making a welcoming speech as well as a declaration of the intent of the conference.

Before students divide into committees, have each nation reports on its own efforts to work with the desert.

Have students write letters to the United Nations delegations for the countries they represented and present them with a description of their conference and the conclusions they came to.

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